Words by Anna Dillon
Montclair, NJ – After the historic reignition of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement in the summer of 2020 and hate crimes against Asian Americans that have persisted throughout the coronavirus pandemic, conversations surrounding racial justice continue to gain national attention. The School of Communication and its students rise to the occasion by continuing this discussion with the multi-platform initiative #FOCUSRacialJustice.
Each semester students from the School of Communication and Media collaborate on the #FOCUS initiative, with a different topic each semester. This fourth instalment of #FOCUS once again delivers compelling storytelling through a variety of media channels, with an impressive sense of intimacy and sensitivity for this hard-hitting topic.
#FOCUSRacialJustice will “shed light on problems, suggest solutions, and contribute to the national dialogue now taking place,” says Givonna Boggans, senior producer with the Montclair State University NewsLab. Students take the lead for this collaborative project, with contributions from the School of Communication and Media’s multi-award winning student organizations. Students are working diligently throughout the semester, some from home, to produce high quality content surrounding relevant issues such as #BlackLivesMatter, #StopAsianHate, and justice for Indigenous peoples.
WMSC Radio, recently named best College Radio Station in the nation, will deliver extensive contributions in weekly shows, and with a one-hour special. Programming topics include micro-aggressions and interventions, white privilege, and how systemic racism permeates our education system.
“Being a white female in an university with a predominantly white student population, I think we as an institution have a lot of work to do to educate ourselves about the racism and prejudice minority communities have faced in this nation. This year’s focus is pushing students and faculty in the SCM to confront the detrimental effects of racism and ask what role in media can we play in the social reckoning for racial justice in our nation? As a college radio station, we value our local voices and we want to share the personal stories of those around us at Montclair State,” says Kaya Maciack, Program Director at WMSC.
WMSC’s One-Hour Special will air on May 7 at 2pm on 90.3 FM via iHeartRadio.
The Montclair State University NewsLab also will contribute a one-hour news special to this project, as well as contributions in its weekly show, entirely run by students.
Boggans and fellow senior producer Louis Biondolillo spearhead the one-hour special, where students interview experts and historians, and produce field pieces. The special will cover how diverse communities are handling disparities in COVID-19 vaccinations, as well as discrimination in employment, education, and incarceration.
Focus Racial Justice: Our Stories will be released on Monday, April 19, 2021 on New Jersey Cable Access Channel 23, and on YouTube and Instagram at 3 p.m.
The Red Hawk Sports Network will contribute coverage about the intersection between racial justice and sports. Segments including the evolution of MSU’s mascot, and other topics including MSU Men’s Basketball BLM activism, which will air on YouTube.
The Montclarion will provide stories and special topics to the project as well, including opening up the conversation surrounding mental health for Black Americans.
Behind the scenes, students at Hawk Communications and graduate students from the School of Communication and Media are working to promote the efforts of fellow students.
The faculty will also contribute to the initiative with a special Symposium on Racial Justice and Media hosted by the director of the School of Communication and Media, Dr. Keith Strudler. Speakers include Eddie Glaude, Princeton Professor, Fred Anthony Smith, Senior Producer at National Football League (NFL), and more. The Symposium will be broadcasted live on The School of Communication and Media’s YouTube April 15th, 2021 7:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Follow @MontclairStateFocus, @MontclairSCM, and #FOCUSRacialJustice for updates about programming.
Read About Past Focus Initiatives:
Focus Climate Change (Fall 2019): SCM Focus On Climate Change Mission Will Take Students To New Orleans
Focus Immigration (Spring 2019): Multi-Platform Thunderclap Takes Montclair State University – and World – by Storm
The School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University Presents: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKH1bXpuMGEThe Second Symposium on Racial Justice and Media